Press regulation plan to be published later today

Culture Secretary Maria Miller is "still on track" to publish a final version of plans for press regulation today, officials have said.

A second round of talks aimed at reaching cross-party agreement on a revised royal charter was held yesterday after industry proposals were rejected earlier this week.

Conservatives had previously indicated they were open to changes on some areas of concern for the press but Labour and the Liberal Democrats were less keen to make the charter "more workable for the industry''.

The outcome of the discussions between Mrs Miller, her Labour counterpart Harriet Harman and Liberal Democrat Lord Wallace of Tankerness is expected to be revealed later today.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said the plan was to publish the proposals later today.

Mrs Miller has previously indicated she will press ahead with the version of the charter agreed at a late-night meeting over pizzas in Westminster on March 18 in the presence of campaign group Hacked Off if an amended version did not achieve cross-party support.

Under the plans approved in March, the job of adjudicating on complaints and imposing penalties will be performed by a new self-regulatory body set up by the industry to replace the Press Complaints Commission. A recognition panel would be required to verify whether this watchdog was effective and genuinely independent of publishers.

However, it would be up to individual publishers to sign up to a regulator endorsed by the panel, and there is speculation that many or all of the major newspapers could opt out of the proposed system if it does not address their concerns over freedom from political interference.

Major newspapers such as the Times claimed already they will not sign up to the new system unless there is no sign of political interference.

Editor John Witherow told BBC Radio 4’s Media Show earlier this week: ““It is the principle that the politicians will be deciding about the regulation of a free press and a free country.”

“We are proposing a wholly independent means of self regulation. It was very much along the lines that Leveson proposals.

“We have compromised already. I think involving politicians in any form of regulating the press is unacceptable.”

 

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